Enjoying learning from people every single day
Dr Lynda Naughton, Clinical Psychologist
Why Minute to Myself?
Minute to Myself
What do you think of when you hear of mental health services, psychologists, psychiatrists? Do you know how to access services in Ireland? There was a time when I was trying to find out how I could access services for a friend of mine + even though I was studying Psychology at the time, I literally had no clue where to begin.
I set up MinutetoMyself to try and spread some information around Psychology which was based in research + my own clinical experience. It is not a service or a business, just an avenue for me to share information that I hope you might find helpful. This website is really just to be able to host links of things that I create, and hopefully will be a space that I can elaborate on certain topics – it has a bit more room than instagram!
Sometimes there can be a misconception around Psychology, mental health services + accessing services. Having worked in the mental health services and having studied Psychology for 8 years, I hope I can come from a place of experience + that you find some benefit from what I share.
p.s There are random light-hearted pictures thrown in, mostly puns, jokes about the night sky, random thoughts that pop in + get turned into pictures – if this is your thing then great! Welcome! 🙂
About me: Hi there, I’m Lynda!
Hello! Thank you for visiting the page, you’ve probably landed here through Instagram where you will have seen a mix of posts from mental health, positive quotes, mini series on happiness and some space jokes thrown in. That’s me. We all have many different sides, in my mind, we’re not one or the other, we’re a blend of different things and so minutetomyself is about just that, taking a minute to be yourself, nourish yourself, be with yourself, whatever it means for you.
The road to becoming a clinical psychologist was not so much a smooth sail, maybe it would be better described as a trip through the muddy waters of the Everglades, with a leaky boat and one canoe. It was long, tiring, exciting, rewarding and everything in between. I knew I wanted to be in a career helping people and talking to them about their lives.
I will never forget being in first year of secondary school in Ireland, and asking my then Science teacher, if the finger print on your big toe was the same as the one on your thumb. To me, it made sense, plausible, even for a then 13 year old. I was curious, that was quickly extinguished (in that class anyways!). But, thankfully, I remained curious. I fell in love with Geography, learning about the makeup of soil, evolution, volcanoes, earthquakes, what the earth was made up of, it was fascinating. I also loved English and trying to read between the lines of poetry, interpreting Shakespeare, using your imagination + creativity to bring you to places you’ve never been before. As well as those, I loved Biology. Looking at experiments, learning about plants, organisms, cell structure. Wow! It was and still is just fascinating. Nearing the end of school we completed an aptitude test, no surprise it was a flat response from me, there were a number of areas I would be suited to but nothing in particular stood out. Because I had mentioned a love of Biology, my career guidance counsellor put forward a career in science and whilst the science part sounded brilliant, the idea of not interacting with people as the majority of my work was hard to grasp.
Coming to the end of school I found out that I was also, and probably still am, indecisive. I was between wanting to study Marine Biology, Psychology, Journalism or Arts. I decided on Arts in NUI-Galway and on we went. My mum was a trojan worker, after my dad died in 2003, she did everything she could to make sure we had what we needed (and still does). Family holidays to Spain, new clothes, driving lessons, dogs, rabbits, football jerseys whatever it was she put us before everything. I was also lucky to obtain the student support grant (SUSI) for my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. I made sure not to waste a cent, and in some ways I look back and wish I had been more of a typical student going out and being carefree but I felt I needed to make the most of the money I had been given to use for college and I used it to buy course texts and print notes and lecture slides to be able to have them to hand.
I studied Geography, Psychological Studies, IT + English. I continued with Geography + Psychological Studies and really, I loved both. Learning about ocean currents, the jurassic era, how to estimate time from a sample core from a river, it was so interesting. I initially wasn’t overly fussed about Psychology. The intro lectures did not initially grab my inspiration, neither did completing statistical models by hand, but there were parts that I loved, learning about child development, autism, forensic psychology, biological psychology everything and anything. I did well enough in college to continue with Psych Studies and I finished my BA in 2012. I had to do an extra year (HDip) in order to fill up the psychological space that geography took up in order to give me the equivalent of an undergraduate in psychology. That was 2012-2013. A few lecturers I had met in NUIG, thesis supervisors, class lecturers, asked about career ideas and they had mentioned clinical psychology. The more I looked into it, the more it seemed like the perfect fit.
I looked towards those who had been successful at getting a place on the course. Woah the competition was fierce. Only 5 places offered the course at the time, with around 6-8 taken on each year. I needed to learn exactly what they were doing to get a place on the doctorate. Step 1; do a masters. I looked to the Applied Psychology masters in TCD, that’s what most people had done prior to getting on. I was simultaneously looking for work as an “Assistant psychologist” which also appeared to be the next part that needed solving.
The majority of people seemed to be getting posts as assistant psychologists through the then ‘JobBridge’ scheme in Ireland. These were extremely competitive and it was a real shock at the competitiveness of AP roles in Ireland. While there were paid AP roles in Dublin, these were nearly more competitive because you were paid for the work. Lots of people did not agree with the scheme, and I definitely didn’t but it seemed like a means to an end, if it helped me get on the doctorate then I was going to put up with it. With very little of these opportunities in the West, I applied to every JobBridge scheme that came up. I was declined at least 10 times as “we regret to inform you that other candidates exhibited greater experience in …”. This was hard, I was kind of offering myself on a plate but nobody wanted me. Shell shock time, re-evaluate, what will. we do. I do recall leaving one x-factor style interview where my now husband had drove me down in support. I’ll never forget it. I was brought upstairs, interviewed, I talked about my experience, there was a chair I can only describe as one you would see in Starbucks, a bucket seat that you could collapse into and struggle to get out of (I’m 5”2!). Anyways, it seemed that chair was my downfall, I know there were other parts (lack of experience!) but I was told that one of the reasons I did not get the post was because I sat on the edge of the chair and didn’t relax. Mindboggling. Like a phoenix into flames I burst into tears in the carpark. Surely, this was some form of torture.
Between working part time in a pharmacy at home and working for a group which I was lucky to be a part of who worked to promote recovery in Ireland, I was kept going.
Eventually, I secured an AP post in Dublin. This really spurred my drive for the doctorate. Although it was gruelling, tiring, sometimes sheer exhausting, it offered a glimpse as to what this type of work could look like. Groups for people with low mood, individual therapy, lots of discussions at MDT’s, I really enjoyed it. Either there was a lot of discouragement along the way, or else I zoned in on it because it jarred with my direction, I’m not sure but it felt like an uphill battle. It was so hard! Along the way the question “so are you a psychologist now” was dotted, and it was crushing. Technically, the term psychologist is not yet protected in Ireland. But after an undergraduate, HDip, Masters in psychology I felt I should be able to call myself something, but morally + ethically I couldn’t say ‘I’m a psychologist now!” to anyone. It was theoretical, academic knowledge, but there was no practical experience, no lived experience to be able to work with people who were really struggling and that was the crux. Hopefully the title of psychologist will be protected soon, for psychologists and people who use psychology services alike.
I applied to the Doctorate and secured a place in my second year of applications. I had no pressure on myself, I actually was very calm about it all as I had said it didn’t matter if I didn’t get on that year, I’d try again, and I think this stood to me as I relinquished any pressure or expectations on myself (really not like me at all!). I had looked at the Hibernia course for becoming a primary school teacher in Ireland and that was my plan B. 2 years of trying to get a place on the doctorate I said + that was it. I did not want to become a person who tried year in year out for an indefinite period of time, I couldn’t do it – mentally or financially.
My friend Sarah + I drove around Connemara one day before I stated the doctorate, an e-mail came through as to what we would be covering in class. My feet felt glued to the ground. ‘I don’t know anything about this!’ panic set in. I knew how hard it was to get on and I knew my class would be very experienced. This was the beginning of my new residence in Impostorville. Over the course of the 3 years we completed placements in child psychology, adult psychology, intellectual disability + early intervention as well as a final placement of choice. I chose adult mental health. Others went to the prison service, child, community, forensic services. Getting to sit with someone who is struggling with their mental health, depression, low mood, anxiety, PTSD, eating, children at home, previous trauma, difficult life circumstances, undiagnosed learning difficulties, alcohol problems, sleep disorders, schizophrenia + psychosis is an absolute privilege. I can’t describe the preciousness of that space between two people, it takes an amazing sense of bravery to sift through your deepest emotional pain and bring it to the surface for someone else to see. Every person I have met has had a profound impact on me + has an effect on my perspective.
The course ended in September 2019 + so here we are. I feel like I went from being in a time-famine to a time rich life. No longer were evenings taken up with assignments, the dread of knowing what assessment was coming next, completing log books, course work, supervised therapy sessions, afraid to speak at meetings because “I’m just the trainee”, being confused with an assistant psychologist because the system has so many labels for health care professionals. I don’t think I’d know what an AP was if I didn’t need to! So here we are, full circle. I honestly have never felt anything like finishing the doctorate. I’d call my friend from the course 4 weeks after finishing, 6 weeks after finishing, 8 weeks after finishing. “How are you settling with having so much time” “great, not great, good, better, awful” we mirrored each other.
Some days were great, some days were awful – what was all those years for? There was no work in our region, deflated, exhilarated, worthless, free. It was like emotional whack-a-mole you just did not know what would come next. But a groove set in, one that I could enjoy that I had never experienced before – suddenly there was no next step, no “I need to get on this course to do X” no “I need a 1.1 or I won’t get onto…”, no Viva, placement visits, grading, to worry about – for the first time in a decade. Some adjustment, even as a psychologist I found it hard to use my own tools. And here we are, in the middle of a pandemic. If you had asked me how I was all those years – I genuinely thought I was calm, not stressed, happy out. Woah hindsight is a great thing. I was so stressed, borderline burnt out, exhausted. Oh and we got married in between! 🙂 But now, I can actually stop and enjoy a minute to myself, a moment to myself, an hour to myself if I need to.
Minute to Myself
I originally set up an instagram page to share psycho-educational information. How to access services, what is a psychologist, what is anxiety, anything that I thought might help someone. Social media can be a hazy, anecdotal layer on top of a photoshopped picture + I know, one page is not going to change much but if anything I wanted it to be a source of information, a platform to help people see how amazing the field of psychology is, how much it has to offer, as well as having a sprinkling of fun + jokes thrown in.
So that’s it, minutetomyself is exactly what I needed! Hoping it can be some help to you too!
"Trauma is a fact of life, however, it does not have to be a life sentence"
Peter A. Levigne
"We think we listen, but very rarely do we listen with real understanding, true empathy. Yet listening, of this very special kind, is one of the most potent forces for change that I know"